As with many personality disorders, the exact cause of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is unknown. It is probably a mixture of genes, early childhood experiences and psychological factors.
Early childhood risk factors include:
- insensitive parenting
- over-praising and excessive pampering - when parents focus intensely on a particular talent or the physical appearance of their child as a result of their own self-esteem issues
- unpredictable or negligent care
- excessive criticism
- extremely high expectations
Other possible factors include:
- abnormalities in the genes that affect the connection between the brain and behaviour
- being over-sensitive
Although there is no one answer to the question of what causes NPD, professionals agree that the sooner treatment begins, the better a person's chance for an improved quality of life.
Where to get help
If you need help, talking to your doctor is a good place to start. If you’d like to find out more or talk to someone else, here are some organisations that can help:
- SANE Australia (people living with a mental illness) — call 1800 187 263.
- beyondblue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online.
- Black Dog Institute (people affected by mood disorders) — online help.
- Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online.
- Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467.
Last reviewed: December 2018